A new policy from the Ontario government is hoping to improve access to service animals in schools.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce was at JW Gerth Public School in Kitchener Monday morning to make the announcement.

“Anything the province can do to make a framework to support children who need service animals is a positive step forward and a realization we can do more to provide inclusiveness for our children,” he said.

Over half of Ontario school boards currently have service animal policies.

With today’s announcement, it becomes mandatory for schools across the province to have a policy.

How they are developed and implemented before the 2020 deadline will be up to the individual school board.

Waterloo Region District School Board already has a policy in effect.

“[Our current policy] aligns with much of what the minister announced today,” said Graham Shantz of WRDSB. “In the coming weeks obviously we will get details from the ministry regarding their framework and we’ll be using that to evaluate our procedure to make sure it aligns with our direction from the government.”

Lecce was joined by his parliamentary assistant Sam Oosterhoff and Kitchener-South Hespeler MPP Amy Fee.

The minister of education applauded Fee’s work on developing the policy. The MPP fought for years for her son to be allowed to bring his service dog to school.

Fee has two children with autism. Her son Kenner brought his service dog to the announcement and told his classmates how the canine helps calm his anxiety and why it’s so important to him.